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By Diogenes (articles) | May 05, 2005

From Ekklesia (UK):

Churches trained to welcome child abusers

Churches are to receive training in how to welcome those who have abused children, into their congregations. The first-ever training programme to help churches respond to the growing number of former sex offenders at services and other church activities, will be launched next week.

It follows the success of Christian work in prisons and other initiatives which mean a growing number of ex-offenders are joining churches. The programme, which is part-funded by the Department for Education and Skills, is to be unveiled at the National Christian Resources Exhibition.

Simon Bass of CCPAS commented; "Churches know that the Gospel commands Christians to receive back the repentant sinner –- even former child abusers -- and the success of the Alpha Course in prisons and other initiatives means there are growing numbers of offenders now looking to join church communities."

Here's what I don't get. If the point at issue is acceptance of the repentant sinner, shouldn't the churches be giving the training instead of receiving it?

Read in one way, it seems to be a totally reasonable program for protecting kids by alerting parishes to unseen dangers of recidivism -- but if so, why do they emphasize their success in prisons, where offenders hardly need to learn the manifold dodges of offenders?

As with those weirdly named workshops purporting to teach priests "what celibacy means," a project to instruct churches in how to welcome abusers will almost certainly take the form of coaching openness to "sexualities different from our own" -- in other words, an invitation to consider how my church's moral teaching is wrong.

Richard Cross holds a doctorate in psychology, who has taught at the university level, including at Franciscan University. He is currently an educational researcher and consultant in the field of psychology and related disciplines.
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